DALLAS — Just as the sun was coming up, the first bus pulled out of the parking lot of the Hilton DFW Lakes, host site of the 2008 Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) Tech/Plant Summit.
You have to get an early start, you see, if you plan on visiting four plants in one morning.
Since the Tech/Plant Summit began five years ago, plant tours have been a staple. The events have featured trips to industrial, linen supply, healthcare and dust control operations but never all in one.
And so it was that ARAMARK Uniform Services in Dallas, North Texas Health Care Laundry in Grand Prairie, Admiral Linen & Uniform Service in Fort Worth and HCA of North Texas in Coppell opened their doors on Tuesday for carefully choreographed excursions down wash aisles, beneath slings and beside tunnels – finishers and washers.
ARAMARK UNIFORM SERVICES
This plant made company history by installing the first automated wash aisle in 1996, then made industry history by installing the first stacked tunnel finishers in 1999. ARAMARK continues to improve the operation and its latest additions include a Jensen Metricon autosorting system and an automated wash aisle safety interlock system.
A 25,000-square-foot equipment platform was installed in the stockroom for the autosort system, which can process more than 6,000 garments hourly. The system conducts a primary sort, then a B-C-D sort to drill down deliveries to individual user level. The system marries a bar code on a garment and a bar code on a hanger to sort.
ARAMARK employs 215 (including stockroom and plant maintenance) in processing 750,000 clean, dry pounds per week. Product mix on a poundage basis is 35% garments, 25% linen (including aprons and towels) and 40% mats, dust control and miscellaneous.
The automated washroom relies on 10 Jensen 800-pound L-Tron open-pocket washer-extractors. Its garment finishing operation uses Colmac tunnel finishers, shirt presses and topper/legger stations.
NORTH TEXAS HEALTH CARE LAUNDRY
At 106,000 square feet, this 2-year-old plant is one of the largest central laundries in the United States, processing more than 27.5 million pounds of linen annually. North Texas Health Care Laundry (NTHCL) is owned by several healthcare systems and services 102 customers, including 21 hospitals.
By operating one shift over 6½ days weekly using its current equipment, the plant can process up to 50 million pounds a year.
There are 40 Lavatec soil-sorting bins with a production capacity of 800 pounds per hour. Eighteen soil storage rails can hold a combined 46,800 pounds of soiled linen, approximately 50% of NTHCL’s daily requirement. Expansive floor space on the soil side provides room for up to 500 carts.
NTHCL has two Lavatec 18-module, 130-pound tunnel washers and a Pellerin Milnor 12-module continuous-batch washer (CBW®), and has space to add another tunnel.
The wash system supported by an Ecolab chemical injection system enables processing at temperatures from 140 F to save energy.
A conveyor system moves items to one of a dozen 260-pound Lavatec dryers. NTHCL will be adding four more dryers.
Five Kannegiesser ironers provide high-speed ironing of flat sheets, draw sheets, fitted sheets, scrubs and small pieces. There are eight small-piece folders by Chicago Dryer Co., in addition to Kannegiesser, Lavatec and G.A. Braun folders.
Three Miura quick-start 200-hp boilers produce steam in less than 15 minutes.
Standard Textile provides the textile management system that controls inventory, generates pack-out reports and tracks customer usage.
ADMIRAL LINEN & UNIFORM SERVICE
While the Admiral plant is more than 40 years old (it was part of the National Linen chain and purchased by Admiral in the 1990s), that doesn’t mean the facility isn’t utilizing innovative systems to meet the challenges of running a modern textile services plant.
Dual wash aisles featuring Ellis Corp. washer-extractors are at the heart of the plant. The UNX chemical system can safely inject more than 40 different types of formulations. There are 14 ironers, including six large-piece ironers in the flatwork department.
The plant has several energy-saving Kemco systems, including a stack economizer. The City of Fort Worth recently recognized Admiral for its wastewater treatment efforts.
While Admiral is a mixed goods plant, it processes a great deal of hospitality linen. As such, it uses detectors in the soil department to locate kitchen utensils and other metal objects.
Admiral earns distinction for its dedicated safety program that includes safety/quality coaches in each of its seven processing plants.
HCA OF NORTH TEXAS
HCA opened the doors here in January 2006, relocating from a Bedford, Texas, strip mall where the laundry had to run 24 hours a day to meet the production needs of several surrounding hospitals.
The 38,000-square-foot facility now operates an extended single shift six days a week in processing linen for nine hospitals and two surgery centers. HCA says by replacing its old plant, it saves $1 million annually in labor and utility costs. HCA employed 50 FTEs at its former site but now employs just 35.
HCA uses two 8-chamber, 150-pound-capacity Pellerin Milnor CBWs; two single-stage presses and eight gas dryers. The finishing department features mostly Chicago Dryer Co. equipment, including a sheet separator, feeders, ironers and folders.
E-Tech provides the soiled-goods sorting and clean-side rail systems.
Summit attendees encouraged by news that select industry vendors are collaborating in developing a common language protocol for data interchange called DataFusion got the chance to see it in practice; HCA is one of three test sites.